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Underfloor Heating

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Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating is a new trend that has several advantages to current heating systems. They are considered space savers because there located underneath the floor, not along any wall. Underfloor heating allow for the user to rid of old, unreliable radiators that otherwise blemish the decor of a room. Best reason for an underfloor heating system is that it does its job well, by keeping the floor pleasantly warm and toasty regardless of the material.

Underfloor heating also offers a more efficient and economic way of warming a room and keeping it that way.  Gone are the days of wasted, unpleasant heating from sources such as stoves or old radiators.  Even hearth furnaces for wood log fires can’t heat up a room as well as an underfloor heating system can, because the heat is released in a controlled manner through the floor throughout the entire room. This way no heat is wasted and is concentrated in the bottom portion of the room.

Where in the house can underfloor heating go?

Underfloor heating is usually found in rooms located on the ground, but the flexibility with underfloor heating is that in can be made to fit any floor construction situation. The easiest system to put in is the wet system, which can be laid down in floors to be constructed or into floors that can be pulled up and redone.  This is an optimal solution for new room additions, open area kitchens and rooms, as well as greenhouses and conservatories. Electric underfloor heating is a better option in rooms that exist because the electrical wire mesh harness is much thinner than the pipes used in a wet system. This allows for less modification to the floor heights.  There are also electrical mat systems that can be slipped under rugs and carpets on hard floors. Because of this, it is recommend to use an electric underfloor heating system in rooms on upper floors.

The different kinds of Underfloor Heating

There are primarily two types of underfloor heating systems; hot water systems(called wet), and electric mat system(called wire). A wet system essentially receives warm water from the central heating system, pumping it through installed pipes within a sub floor. On top of the sub floor the finished floor or surface is laid. This system is similar to a radiator in the principles of how they work, but the wet underfloor heating system is much more cost efficient since it uses a lower temperature of water, usually about 40¡C up to 65¡C. This results in a floor temperature range of 23¡C up to 32¡C.

On the other hand, an electrical system utilizes cables attached to mesh mats that are open-weave or embedded in a prolonged roll. The rolls or mesh mats are laid on the floor, linked together and hooked up to the main thermostat, where they receive power.  Overall, an electrical underfloor heating system is cheaper to put in and causes less alteration to floors that are already built, but they are more costly to run than a wet underfloor heating system. Another option to consider would be Polypipe underfloor heating.

Things to consider when installing an Underfloor Heating system.

To get the energy and cost efficiency out of underfloor heating, the floors and surrounding walls need to appropriately insulated. This includes putting insulation below the installed system to help channel the heat upwards through the floor.

Wet systems require space for the controls to be housed. This can be indiscreet, such as a cabinet. Each room with underfloor heating will have a specific valve, but it can be found with controls. The pipes are usually continuous so there is no chance of leaks from joints since there are none, and there is no upkeep to the system either. Adding a boiler, as long as it has ample size, can help bring the costs down even more with a wet underfloor system.

A professional installation is recommended for a wet underfloor heating system, which will take care of any modifications if it is going into an existing room. Things to be considered are heights of the floor and ceiling, materials, and temperatures to be achieved.

Options for flooring with an Underfloor Heating System.

Carpet

Underfloor heating can be used with any material or type of flooring, including carpets and rugs. Research provided by the Carpet Foundation* has concluded that a carpet that has a 2.5 tog or less thermal resistance can be used without damage to either the system or the carpet. Most carpets made today carry a thermal resistance of less than 1 tog.

 Slate, Stone, Terracotta, and Stone

 A popular trend in flooring are these materials, and in conjunction there has been a rise of underfloor heating in homes with these textiles. The only difference with the materials is that the thicker the material is, it affects the time it takes to heat up the room. Thicker materials or stones will take longer to reach the desired temperature, but there is no difference in heat quality once its reached.

 Timber

 While underfloor heating systems are compatible with the different kinds of timber flooring, many installers will insist upon timber specifically approved for use with underfloor heating. The flooring needs to have an expansion gap that is on the edges that can be easily hidden with trim, since the hottest temperature that will be reached is 27¡C. These specifications are not hard to find since many manufacturers follow these guidelines, but always be sure to double check with the installer and the company supplying the floor to make sure. Usually the installer or supplier will advise which brands to use with underfloor heating systems.

 Vinyl’s and Laminates

Underfloor heating will not work with all laminates or vinyl’s, but can be used with high calibre brands such as Amtico, Polyflor or Karndean International. It’s recommended checking with the manufacturer of the flooring and the installer, ensuring that the two materials will work together. Most likely the supplier can recommend a system and brand to use.

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